I’d like to introduce you to my friend Cassie who has inspired me to get started on the Low Carb High Fat diet. She’s had incredible success, both with weight loss as well as her overall physical and mental health. As I’ve only been doing this way of eating for 6 weeks, compared to her 6 months (and I’ve already lost 6kgs!!!) I thought I’d ask her a few questions that I wanted to know before I got started that might be helpful to anyone who’s curious about giving LCHF a go. Or maybe you’ve never heard of it, but you’re looking for a healthy way of eating that can help you lose weight without having to count calories, starve yourself, and without having to buy any programs, pills or shakes.
So – here goes:
What is LCHF?
LCHF stands for Low Carb High/Healthy Fat. It is a way of eating that consists of a very low consumption of carbohydrates, moderate consumption of protein, and a high consumption of healthy fats.
How long have you been doing LCHF?
Gosh… I’ve been LCHF for 6 months now! 6 months! Before LCHF, my record at sticking to a ‘lifestyle change’ was about 8 weeks.
What were your reasons for starting?
I basically started LCHF because I was sick and tired of always feeling sick and tired. I was bursting out of my size 18 clothing… I really should have been in a size 20, and that scared the absolute bejeezus out of me. I had friends who had switched to LCHF, and had amazing success. I had always thought that quitting sugar and grains was ‘pretty extreme’, but finally made the realisation that desperate times called for desperate measures. Although the thought of giving up grains and sugars was really quite confronting and scary for me, I knew I had to suck it up and just give it a go. I had always considered myself a food addict… but how can you beat your addiction when it is to food? In hindsight, I can see that I was a carb and sugar addict.
What have been the best changes for you?
There have been so many positive changes in my life since starting this way of eating (shortened to WOE by those in the know). Obviously, I have lost weight. 23.5kg to be precise. I have dropped from a size 20, to fitting in to some size 10 items. I no longer snore, which is a massive, massive plus for me. For the first time in almost five years, my fiancé and I are able to share a bed again. I have more energy, my skin is clearer, my depression and anxiety have disappeared, I am sleeping better, my self-esteem is improving, my relationship with my fiancé and our children is better. Basically, I am a much happier version of myself.
Have there been any challenges?
The first month was probably the toughest, but in many ways it wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be. After a few days, I got some pretty ordinary withdrawal symptoms (commonly known as keto flu)… I felt like I had been hit like a truck. It was probably two or three days of feeling lousy, but then suddenly I felt better than I had in a very long time.
The craving for sugar and sweet foods was so strong in the first few weeks that I actually decided to totally remove anything remotely sweet tasting from my diet for the first month. I feel that this really helped me get a handle on my cravings and my sugar addiction.
What have your friends and family thought of your lifestyle change?
I have been very lucky to be blessed with very understanding friends. If we are eating something that is not LCHF friendly, I will eat whatever part of the meal is. Sometimes I have taken along a LCHF dish to share. I think that while my friends and family were always supportive of my new lifestyle, there were initially some secret concerns and confusion. Now that they have seen all of the positive changes LCHF has made in my life, they are a lot more at home with it. They can see that eating this way is actually good for me, and are happy that I am happy. Some have even been inspired to start LCHF themselves!
What do you eat on a regular day?
One of the great things about eating LCHF, is I am just not as hungry as I used to be. Usually, my first meal of the day will be eaten around about 11am… and sometimes not as late as 1 or 2pm. I usually have bacon and eggs in some form… whether it be scrambled, poached or an omelette. At the moment, I am hooked on spinach, feta and bacon scrambled eggs, cooked with a little butter and double cream.
If I am hungry during the day, I might snack on things like celery and cream cheese, a slice of meat, a piece of 90% dark chocolate, or a boiled egg with some butter. Usually my cup of tea with cream is more than enough to tide me over until dinner.
Dinner can vary from something like a serve of protein (steak, salmon and chicken) served with cauliflower mash (made with lots of butter) and some buttery green beans. I always, ALWAYS eat all of the fat in my meat. It seriously is the best tasting part. There are also lots of family favourites that I have been easily able to tweak so that I can (such as beef strog, spag bol, Skinnymixers Butter Chicken). When the family has pasta or rice, I usually have sautéed zoodles or cauliflower rice.
Drinks wise, I will normally have two or three cups of tea a day (I have a tablespoon of double cream in my tea), and lots of water. I still have the occasional glass of dry red, and sometimes even vodka and soda served with a wedge of lemon or lime. LCHF has dramatically decreased my drinking ability so I am the cheapest night out ever!
What do you eat when you go out?
Eating while on the run, or eating out can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, as can eating with family and friends. I always try to look at menus before I go anywhere, but when I eat out, my go to dish is generally a big juicy steak with a side of greens. If it is on the menu, I will have my steak with garlic butter. If not, I will sometimes take my own little container of sour cream. If I get peckish while I am out and about, I will usually head to a deli, and pick up a few slices of salami or ham, and some nice brie or Camembert. It really is all about finding what works for you, and running with it.
What are the most common questions people seem to have about LCHF?
Common questions I get… But what do you eat? Isn’t that hard? Can you still drink alcohol? Can you still eat *insert food here*? Personally, I love all of the questions, and I am more than happy to answer them. Most LCHFers love being given the opportunity to talk shop.
Is there anything else you can share that you think would be helpful for people who are just starting LCHF?
My advice to those who are starting out in LCHF, or who are thinking about starting out… surround yourself with lots of supportive and like-minded people. Join Facebook groups, join forums… talk to others. Being able to talk to others who are going through, or have gone through the same journey is just so invaluable.
To help get me inspired, I watched ‘That Sugar Film’ and ‘Cereal Killers’. They are both fantastic documentaries, with a lot of easily digestible information. Real Meal Revolution and Diet Doctor both have beginners programs you can sign up for free, and provide you with access to meal plans, informational videos and recipes. If books are your thing, then Christine Cronau has a couple of fantastic LCHF books out. I also highly recommend ‘The Real Meal Revolution’ by Professor Tim Noaks, Jonno Proudfoot and Sally-Ann Creed.